A week before its event which is scheduled to be held at Steve Jobs theater in its Cupertino headquarters on March 25, Apple updated its website to introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad Air and a 7.9-inch iPad mini. This is our overview of the two brilliant machines and what they offer to Apple consumers.
Since the launch of iPad Pros, longtime Apple consumers were disgruntled with Apple as it was no longer focusing on the lower tier of iPads. While the iPad Pros were getting new powerful processors and support for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, the cheaper iPad Air and iPad mini were left in limbo. Today that changes as Apple has finally updated the aging hardware.
iPad mini 5
The new iPad mini 5 brings a 7.9-inch True Tone Retina display. It is powered by the new A12 Bionic chip which is currently powering the latest generation of iPhones including the iPhone XR, the iPhone XS, and the iPhone XS Max. It sports an 8 MP primary camera along with a 7 MP FaceTime HD camera. But the biggest new feature is the support for Apple Pencil. This is great for users who want to take hand written notes or draw on their iPads. Combine that with the small size of iPad mini and you are getting the perfect walking and note taking device. Note that both the iPad mini and the iPad Air support the first generation Apple Pencil.
The iPad mini goes from a great product to an astounding product when you take a look at its pricing. Despite the major hardware upgrades, it starts at $399 which is the same price of its predecessor. To be fair the storage starts at 64 GB while the base model of iPad mini 4 came with 128 GB of onboard storage. However, the new upgrades more than make up for the reduction in storage space. And you can always get the 256 GB model for $549. You can add cellular option to both these options for an extra $130.
10.5-inch iPad Air
The new 10.5-inch iPad Air is the iPad that most of us are going to buy from now on. It marks the perfect balance between price and features. Like iPad mini 5, it is powered by the new A12 Bionic chip. It brings a laminated 10.5-inch Retina display with True Tone capabilities. There’s an 8 MP camera at the back and a 7 MP camera at the front both of which can record videos at 1080p. You will also get a 10 hour battery backup which essentially means an all day battery life. It also supports first-generation Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.
The addition of Smart Keyboard is the big feature here. Apple has been touting iPads as laptop replacement since it launched the iPad Pro. However, the high prices of iPad Pros made sure that users Always chose Macs above iPad Pros because they both were in the similar price point.
The new iPad Air starts at just $499 which makes it perfect entry level laptop replacement for many users. The base model offers 64 GB of storage but you can pay $649 to get the 256 GB version. You can add cellular connection for an extra $130. The Apple Pencil will cost $99 while the Smart Keyboard $159. I wish that Apple also reduced the price on the accessories to make it more budget friendly.
10.5-inch iPad Air and iPad mini: Final Thoughts
Apple’s iPad line is now complete. If you want the absolute cheapest iPad you can buy the regular 9.7-inch iPad for $329. If you want the smallest iPad, you can get it for $399. If you want keyboard and pencil support, you can get the new iPad Air for $499. If you want the latest and the greatest that iPad has to offer you can get either the 11-inch iPad Pro or the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for $799 and $999 respectively.
Note that the prices mentioned here are the base price and you can upgrading the storage and adding cellular capabilities will cost more. There’s no doubt that Apple makes the best tablets in the business. With the new cheaper options, it is going to dominate the tablet market even more if that’s possible.